It is probably a good thing that people are not aware of what is going through the mind of an incarnate astrologer, as we gingerly negotiate the choppy waters of time, constantly attributing meaning to events through astrological symbolism. Hardly a single event can arise, before our devious minds have assigned an astrological label to it. Meetings and plans are carefully tuned to the ongoing planetary dramas. For astrologers, it is an enriching process. For skeptics, it must seem crazy.
I remember once going on a personal development course where one idea was that “life is empty and meaningless”. At first that might sound rather nihilistic, but perhaps it is true, and humans naturally attribute meaning which has been absorbed through their culture, their religion and their education. The universe is pliable and infinitely adaptive to the beliefs you have, serving up exactly the kind of events that fit into your set of beliefs.
In my book, “Astrology: Transformation and Empowerment” I told the story of a client with Pisces rising and Neptune exactly on the Descendant, who complained that men were constantly following her. I tried to suggest that this could be more fantasy than reality. When she left at the end of the consultation, I walked into town, and as I entered the town square, she got off the bus right in front of me. What could I say?
She had her reality and events vindicated it, and astrologers have their reality, and it sure works well. An astrologer who is immersed in dance of the planets through sign and house, in the rising of the sun and moon, and the magical retrograde rhythms of Mercury and Venus, sees events unfolding in complete harmony with the cosmos. It becomes second nature when experiencing an event to try and trace the astrological synchronicity involved. If something happens that seemingly cannot be accounted for astrologically, you start digging to find out the deeper cause. Life is co-opted by the astrologer as a wise instructor, which means that living is a constant instruction in the art of astrology.
Whether astrological truth has any objective basis is almost impossible to discern, because everything is completely subjective for the astrologer who is at one with the universe. Or rather: subjectivity and objectivity merge in the meeting of consciousness with the world. When working with clients – whether you are an astrologer or a psychologist – research has shown that it is the quality of the contact between practitioner and client that transforms the client… not the method. And the transformation takes place in the intersubjective meeting – when practitioner and client are one. It’s the empathy and understanding that works. (Note 1)
Having said that, there is something about astrology that makes it special. The ability of astrologers to predict may indeed suggest that it can go beyond the subjective and that it does hold the key to time and to future events. Prediction is both fascinating, and historically it can prove to be dangerous. In the Middle Ages, a number of astrologers gained prominence through their correct predictions. Nostradamus (1503 – 1566) was a well respected doctor who lost his wife and children to the plague and subsequently devoted himself to astrology. He predicted – four years before it happened – that the young Count Mountgomery would kill the French King Henry II in a competition. The king was warned of the prophecy but chose to ignore it. The accident happened in a joust, when the count’s lance split and a splinter pierced the king’s eye. Nostradamus became very famous as a result, and the king’s wife, Catherine de Medici, continued to visit Nostradamus for many years to get advice.
England’s most famous astrologer from this period was William Lilly, who wrote the classic “Christian Astrology”. He gained great prestige in the mid-16th century because of precise political predictions that included the crushing defeat of the army of Charles 1st by Oliver Cromwell in 1645. Cromwell subsequently used Lilly as a propaganda tool. Many years before the Great Fire of London, William Lilly predicted the precise date for the event. He had to later defend himself in court against accusations that he personally had something to do with the fire. It can be very dangerous for an astrologer when astrology becomes a political power factor, and Lilly and Nostradamus made a point of obscuring their predictions in coded language.
Today there are many thousands of brilliant astrologers working worldwide. Michael Baigent – whose 1982 work “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” was the inspiration for the best seller “The Da Vinci Code”– co-authored the book “Mundane Astrology” in 1984. Here he predicted about the Soviet Union that there would be “from January 1989 to November 1991 … some basic restructuring of the nation … with regard to leadership and style of rule. This period will herald some new revolution … the tight command structure will fail and the country will collapse back into the numerous autonomous states it once was.” (Note 1) Several other astrologers predicted the demise of the Soviet Union at this time.
American astrologer Robert Zoller made a very accurate prediction about 9/11 one year before the event referring to a threat from Islamic terrorism to the eastern coast of the USA: “The greatest period of danger is in September 2001 … The destruction and loss of life will shock us all. It will be an act of war but unlike any other in our history.” (Note 2)
Predictions like this are incredibly impressive. It is one thing to predict which of two presidential candidates will win the US election, but another thing to spell out the details, for example that 9/11 would take place on the East Coast of the USA and that it would be an act of war unlike any other. That is very precise.
So in many ways astrology has both internal validity – it works for the astrologer – and external validity – it works for people unconnected with the astrologer. How to account for this philosophically, I do not know, but in the meantime mere observation of life events here and now acquires both humor and intensity for the individual astrologer.
Recently (February and March 2013) Mercury has been retrograde in Pisces conjoining Neptune and Mars in the process, which is a recipe for a web of lies and deceit. All over the world, we have been witness to scandals which have unraveled as Mercury retrograded through Pisces. France’s ex-budget minister, Jerome Calhuzac, who was responsible for bringing tax evaders to justice turned out himself to have secret bank accounts in Switzerland and Singapore! The British minister, Chris Huhne, was sent to jail for lying about a speeding offense and getting his wife to take the blame. The minister for education in Germany, Annette Schavan, had to resign because of plagiarism in her thesis many years earlier. Even the Spanish royal family, and indeed the whole Spanish government, is embroiled in financial scandal.
After two months of Mercury in Pisces, excitement mounted as Mercury approached Aries to give us all a bit of action. I recall with Mercury at 29 degrees Pisces, my wife and I got into a motor rickshaw in Ahmedabad, India (where we are having software developed) and it was completely clapped out. Normally these vehicles are packed to the brim with large Indian families, but with just the two of us, it could hardly get up the smallest incline. And I guess that is how a planet is at the end of Pisces, and it is worst of all for Mercury, which is said to be in fall in this sign. The next day, early Sunday morning, there was an energetic knocking at our door. My wife sent me a warning glance – Mercury had entered Aries! At the door was an angry plumber (still a touch of Pisces) who had been assigned to fix our leaky air-conditioner. Being still in bed we had no intention of letting him in, but he burst in anyway. Hello Mercury!
When the planets become part of everyday life in this way, at some point it seems that nothing can arise without it being fully in tune with the cosmos, even if you initiate the action yourself. A good example is watching a film. There was a time when watching TV was a collective affair, with a whole population tuned in to the box. This would clearly reflect collective planetary patterns, just as when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon with a Moon/Uranus/Jupiter conjunction. Now, with videos on demand, you can watch what you want when you want. But for the astrologer this will still be totally attuned to planetary movement.
Recently we downloaded and watched the film “Departures” which is about a Japanese cello player who loses his job, and applies for a position in what he thought was a travel agency, but which turned out to be a funeral parlor. Venus had entered Taurus, in dignity in its own sign, and was sextile Neptune. With that wonderful Japanese attention to ritual and detail, he learned the art of preparing the bodies of the dead – always in front of the attentive families – so that they once again looked beautiful and ready for their journey into the beyond. In the midst of tragedy and tears he restored beauty and compassion. Venus was of course also going on to oppose Saturn in Scorpio and trine Pluto in Capricorn, and the film was full of wonderful transformations of corpses. (Note 4)
The cellist had lost contact with his father at the age of six, and the only memory he had of his father was a stone his father had given him, according to a tradition when stones are exchanged as a form of emotional bonding. This bonding was cemented at the end of the film as the stone he gave to his father revealed itself under very moving circumstances. When Venus opposes Saturn even stones can be a testimony of love.
Two streams of time and events are unfolding as people and events interact. One is the collective stream, which is reflected by the unfolding planetary movement, and the other is the personal stream, which is the interaction of individual character with events. Perhaps the less you impinge on the collective, the smoother it all goes. Whether is it a clapped out autorickshaw or an angry plumber, it’s all as it should be, and there is no need to add your own reactions to the mix, apart from wonderment and appreciation. But if you do, that will be OK too.
Adrian Ross Duncan April 18th, 2013
1. See for example Bo Mahl and Morten Kjølbye: “Psykoterapiens ABC”
2. “Mundane Astrology” Campion, Harvey and Baigent. (Aquarian 1984) page 444.
3. See http://www.new-library.com/zoller/features/nl-article-predictionsept11.shtml
4. Departures won an Academy Award for the best foreign language film in 2008 and is directed by Yojiro Takita.